There’s no doubt Rangers had some luck on the night to get the draw in Russia and beat Ufa 2-1 on aggregate. There’s also no doubt that some bad luck was evident with the red cards and moments where deflections and great saves prevented a second Rangers goal. When Steven Gerrard asked for heroes and warriors just after the first leg, there’s no way he could have predicted what his team would have to go through. Here are the ratings on the night for each player.
ALLAN McGREGOR – 9
McGregor didn’t have too many saves to make due to the strong defending in front of him. The main saves he did make were outstanding. A long shot in the second half could have caught him out, but he was able to adjust and push the ball clear. The save from the header by Igboun was amazing, and the timing of it hugely important. As we’ve seen over the years, and even just in the run of games this month, McGregor has the ability to make big saves when required. Adding his experience at slowing things down when required meant he was vital yet again.
JAMES TAVERNIER – 8
It was a hard shift for Tavernier overall. The loss of Morelos to the red card meant that he was unable to get forward for the majority of the match. Defensively, things were a little stretched and last-ditch in nature. When the team went down to 9 men, he was forced to tuck in and play narrow. He covered the gaps very well and didn’t take any chances on the ball.
CONNOR GOLDSON – 9
After what was a poor performance against Motherwell, Goldson reminded us just how good he can be. He won the ball in the air almost every time it came near him. His reading of the game saw him block a shot and clear a cross in the first half which looked like they were certain goals. The leadership and composure he has meant that the team felt confident they could hold out as the match progressed.
NIKOLA KATIC – 8
Katic was very good next to Goldson, but made one or two more glaring errors which led to good chances for Ufa. That’s not meant to sound as critical as it does, because the team were under a lot of pressure and he did well overall. Had Ufa taken one chance in particular, though, he would have been at fault. His covering and ability in the air were vital to the team.
JON FLANAGAN – 5
Flanagan was unlucky to receive a second yellow card in many ways. The incident which led to it wasn’t a foul, but he had committed a few after his early booking. His rating here isn’t swayed by that, but more by his first-half showing. He struggled with the ball in behind a few times, which gave Ufa a couple of great chances. Whilst he was involved in the move which led to the Rangers goal, he wasn’t having a very comfortable match before he was sent off.
OVIE EJARIA – 9
Ovie Ejaria is getting a lot of praise from Steven Gerrard of late. In this match, you could clearly see why. His goal was an excellent finish, curling into the far corner on the angle. He created some good chances through his pressing and composure, with one other shot being deflected just wide. As the game progressed and defensive strength was needed, he proved he’s willing to put in the hard work. One such moment led to a late chance for Kent as Ejaria showed more determination to win the ball than anyone else. This was a match which shouldn’t have suited a player of his style, but he was excellent.
RYAN JACK – 8
With the way the match went, it wasn’t easy for Jack to do what he’s best at. The midfield wasn’t getting much of the ball to allow him to dictate the tempo. As Rangers lost players to red cards, he was forced to become almost another centre-half. He won the ball numerous times when Ufa were threatening through the centre. The game ended with Jack breaking forward and running over 60 yards with the ball. The determination and energy summed up the entire performance.
SCOTT ARFIELD – 7
It seems harsh to rate Arfield a little lower than most. It’s not because he was poor, but just because the need to defend so deep meant a lot of what he can offer was nullified. He won tackles, never stopped running, and his experience was important. Sadly, having to play so defensively meant he couldn’t get forward to link up the game and hurt Ufa in dangerous areas.
DANIEL CANDEIAS – 6
Candeias only receives this rating as he was substituted at half time. He had put in a great shift, and it was no coincidence that Ufa were having more joy on the other side of the park for creating chances. His pressing play contributed to the Rangers goal.
ALFREDO MORELOS – 3
I believe Morelos was very harshly treated with regards to the red card. Others think it was stupid of him. Until that point, he had started the match well. Both him and Candeias pressed the mistake which got us up the pitch to score the opening goal. His link-up play led to a couple of great chances for others. He was a little greedy with one run when he should have held the ball up, but was looking sharp. His red card was a real frustration.
RYAN KENT – 8
The fitness, energy, direct running and tactical awareness of Kent was excellent. He was very unlucky not to score after a great run early in the second half. The save from the goalkeeper was stunning, and you could see Kent starting to move away in celebration only to be denied. A couple of decisions on the counter-attack weren’t the best, but given the effort, he had put in that was understandable. Even at 88 minutes, he was capable of getting forward on the break and getting a shot away.
KYLE LAFFERTY – 6
Lafferty came on at half time to provide an outlet for the team. Once Flanagan was sent off, his job changed, and he worked hard on the right-hand side to support the team defensively.
ANDY HALLIDAY – 5
Halliday was really good when he came on, playing around 15 minutes as pretty much a centre-half. He won the ball loads and won fouls to relieve the pressure.
How did you rate the players on the night? Tweet us @abouttherangers with your thoughts.